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Bike News E-Mail

November 27: Let’s talk about bikes and the planned N/S bus rapid transit route

A map of Metro’s planned Bus Rapid Transit network. The North-South route (Route B) is shown in green. Image: City of Madison

Madison’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) route, going from Junction Road on the west side to East Towne Mall on the East Side, is still under construction. But the City and Metro are already preparing for a second route, connecting the north and south side. If all goes well, the route could be in operation as early as 2028.

Initial concept for a reconstructed Park Street, with a widened sidewalk on only one side of the street. Source: City of Madison

The project will involve a reconstruction of Park Street, and potential changes to the setup of streets such as Fitch Hatchery, Packers, and Sherman. A lot of these changes will have an impact on people biking, and getting the route and the design right is important for improving our city’s all-ages-and-all-abilities bike network. Join our meeting for a presentation from Metro and an opportunity to ask questions and provide comment!

The virtual meeting will take place on Monday, November 27 from 6 to 7 pm. Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZckdeigqT0tGNV7VUb5P303BqiODYk90ppH

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Can’t make the meeting? We’ll record it and make it available via our website and YouTube channel. You can also send us questions or comments in advance of the meeting: info@madisonbikes.org

For more information about the North-South BRT project, go to https://www.cityofmadison.com/metro/routes-schedules/bus-rapid-transit/north-south-brt-line

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Weekly Update

Spring in February

Event poster for "Know your rights: biking and the law." Monday, Feb 25, 6pm, Madison Public Library, Room 104. 201 W Mifflin St

I hope everyone has been able to get out and enjoy the (weirdly) warm weather recently. Although the riding has been very pleasant, it’s a bit unnerving that we have weather this warm in February.

The week ahead is somewhat slow, but we have a great community meeting coming up Monday (today, if you are receiving this by email.) In the fall, we invited our members and friends to brainstorm about what they would like to see as event, talks, rides, activities, and information in the future. This Monday’s topic came out of that meeting. See below for more details.

Monday

Our Community Meeting at 6:00 pm at the Central Library will be on the topic of “Know Your Rights: Biking and the Law” with Clayton Griessmeyer, Bicycle Injury Lawyer. If you have questions about what to do if you have a crash, or important aspects about biking on paths or roads, this will be an event you don’t want to miss. 

Also Monday, Fitchburg Bikes will meet at the Fitchburg Senior Center, 5510 Lacy Rd at 7:00 pm.

Wednesday

Transportation Commission will meet virtually at 5:00 pm. On the agenda are a number of projects scheduled for both this year and planned for in the future. (See items on 5, 6, and 9 on the agenda. Under item 9, items marked TAP are pedestrian/bicycle improvements.)

Also on the agenda is an item about safety, crowding, and speed concerns on the paths. There is a good presentation from city staff that lays out the issues with both crowding and any conflicts. We’ve had a discussion about this recently on our Facebook Community, and it comes up every couple of years, including in a recent letter to the media. Basically, we rely on everyone to be polite and aware of other path users, but that’s often a big ask.

Ongoing opportunities to comment:

The UW has a new master plan for the Lakeshore Natural Area. There was quite a bit of publicity about a new visitors center to be built near the entrance to Picnic Point. This would involve some changes to both University Bay Dr and the parallel Lakeshore Path, but mostly just relocating them closer to the marsh.

Much of the master plan involves landscaping, prairie and woodland restoration, and changes to some pedestrian paths within the area near Picnic Point, but the Lakeshore Natural Area also includes the Lakeshore Path all the way down to the Limnology Building near Memorial Union. There isn’t much information in the current master plan about the path in this area, but we have the chance to weigh in on future needs for this critical connector.

The intrepid may be able to navigate the path in all conditions, but winter makes the path quite treacherous, with rutted ice, repeated freezing and thawing, and most of the path completely dark during our short days. Thaws in the spring just mean huge puddles — with ice still present underneath — mud, sand, more ruts, and all users trying to navigate the dry areas, so moving side to side on the path to find dry ground.

If you would like to see changes to the path in the future (lighting, surface, width, improved maintenance, stabilizing areas near the path, etc.) you can comment by contacting the UW via the contact information here.

Dane County is accepting comments until March 15 about a proposed bridge across the Wisconsin River near Sauk City and a trail to Walking Iron County Park near Mazomanie. Information – including slides and a recording from a January public meeting – and a link to comment can be found here

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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E-Mail Newsletter Weekly Update

Bike records, a fat bike race, and “Biking and the Law”

It’s been unseasonably warm. And that shows when you pay attention to the bike counters. When riding past the two counters, on the Southwest Path and the Cap City Trail, I had noticed that counts seemed high. And so I looked at the weekly count data for the week starting on February 5. And indeed: These were the highest numbers since the counters were installed!

The forecast for this week looks even warmer, and so we’ll see if we get another record. Have you been riding more? And if you’re not an all-season rider, have you considered getting back on the bike sooner this year?

Fat bike race in Middleton

Speaking of warm temperatures: On Saturday, the final race of the Hugh Jass Fat Bike Series is supposed to take place at Blackhawk Ski Club in Middleton. Make sure to check the Facebook event, as the warm weather may make for difficult trail conditions.

Preview: Biking and the Law

Not this week, but on Monday, February 26, we are holding our first Community Meeting of 2024. Local attorney Clayton Griessmeyer, who specializes in biking and the law, will talk to us about both your rights as a bicyclist and what you should know if you get into a crash. The event will be in person at the Madison Central Library, Room 104 at 6 pm.

Clayton will talk about:

  • Laws that are designed to protect people on bicycles and pedestrians
  • Things to keep in mind while biking
  • Specific examples of crashes
  • How insurance companies and their lawyers try to cheat people out of justice
  • Overview of a case from start to finish with pointers for people who get hurt while biking
  • Q+A

We’re very excited about our Community Events this year! Upcoming meetings will include a visit to the BCycle shop, a preview of the city’s bike network planning efforts, and much more! Do you have an idea for a community and/or want to organize one? Shoot us an email: info@madisonbikes.org

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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E-Mail Newsletter Weekly Update

Queer Valentine’s ride; Freewheel volunteer meeting; Madison Bike Week

A group of happy people in winter clothing under a Madison Bikes-branded pop-up tent on the Cap City Trail. There are donuts and coffee and snacks on the table.
Madison Bikes, 2024 Beth Skogen Photography – www.bethskogen.com

Last Friday, we celebrated International Winter Bike Day. Part of the Madison Bikes mission is to advocate for biking as a year-round activity and means of transportation. And over the years, we’ve had all kinds of weather on that day — polar vortex temperatures, big snowfalls, freezing rain, … This year the weather was unseasonably warm and pleasant. Together with the City of Madison, we set up shop on the Cap City trail in front of Monona Terrace and handed out donuts, coffee (thanks to Cafe Domestique for sponsoring that!), and stickers. And in the evening, we filled up the bike racks at Working Draft for a happy hour. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Valentine’s Day: No TC, but the Madison Queer Bike Ride

On Wednesday, it’s Valentine’s Day. The Transportation Commission meeting for that day is canceled. But you can join the Madison Queer Bike Ride for a Valentine’s edition of their monthly ride:

It’s the Valentine’s Day edition of the Queer Bike Ride. Let’s skip the restaurant dinner and bike around.
10 mile loop through West Campus, Shorewood Hills and Eagle Heights
Warm up and hang out at Der Rathskeller (Memorial Union) near the end of the loop
Meet at Law Park beach @ 6pm
Bring your bike lights. Bring your valentines.

https://www.instagram.com/p/C3D_MfQP3Ot/

Freewheel Volunteer Meeting

Freewheel will be hosting their monthly volunteer meeting on Thursday at 6pm via Zoom. As they’re working on re-establishing a DIY community bike shop in Madison, they’re looking for volunteers and planning for various events. Sign up for the call here.

Madison Bike Week: June 1-8

Save the date: Madison Bike Week is coming, and it’ll be June 1-8 today, coinciding with the Bike Fed’s Wisconsin Bike Week. We have lots of plans and ideas, and we’re excited to see what the community will come up with this year. Stay tuned for more information, and start thinking about what you will organize for Madison Bike Week.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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Newsletter Weekly Update

Happy Winter Bike Week!

Welcome to the Madison Bikes newsletter! It’s Winter Bike Week and we’re super excited to share some news and updates with you.

Winter Bike Week activities

On Tuesday morning from 7-9, Bike Fitchburg will be hosting a commuter station at the “Velo UnderRound” (where the Badger, Cap City, Southwest, Cannonball, and Military Ridge Paths intersect). Stop by to enjoy some hot coffee and bagels. There will also be minor mechanical adjustments and bike maps available. Come chat about what Bike Fitchburg is doing to help make a more fun and welcoming place to ride a bike, and how you can get involved!

Friday is International Winter Bike Day, and Madison Bikes and the City of Madison are hosting another commuter station on the Capital City Trail, just east of the Monona Terrace (near the bike elevator). From 7-9am we will have free coffee (courtesy of Cafe Domestique), donuts, and some one-of-a-kind MB Winter biking stickers!

An smiling individual with long hair, wearing a high-vis coat and a high-vis hat, celebrates their free Madison Bikes blue face buff with the sun rising on the frozen lake behind them. A sign reads "no motorized vehicles past this point".
A happy commuter at Winter Bike Day 2023 (Photo: Harald Kliems)

Finally, Friday afternoon from 4-6pm, we’ll be hanging out at Working Draft Beer. All are welcome to stop by, enjoy 10% off with your Bike Benefits sticker, and chat with us about why you love Winter biking. Working Draft has a large selection of tap beer and plenty of NA options! We look forward to capping off the celebration with you there.

Meetings: Passenger Rail and Pedestrian Safety

How exciting is it to imagine a passenger train station in Madison? On Tuesday from 6-7:30pm, the city will be hosting a public meeting on the Passenger Rail Station Study. The study aims to identify a location for Amtrak’s planned extension of the Hiawatha route. Tune in to hear about the study’s progress and where the station could be located.

Wednesday from 5-7pm, the city is hosting a virtual Community Conversation about pedestrian safety. The meeting, held by the Disability Rights and Services Program, is for learning and discussing how to reduce crashes and deaths and improve safety for anyone who walks, rolls, or rides for transportation.

Freewheel Bicycle Co. Update

Madison Freewheel Bicycle Co. is a local non-profit bike shop that focuses on education about biking for transportation. Their services include providing free and low-cost bicycles to individuals in need, bike building, low cost and DIY repair, and maintenance classes. While they had to leave their previous space at the Madison Bicycle Center in 2023, they are still going and exploring which direction to go in 2024. Along with looking for a new indoor shop space, they are planning fundraising, advocacy for better transportation, and events. To help them do those things, Freewheel is seeking new board members. If you are interested in helping the community through bicycle education and advocacy, you are encouraged to join the next meeting on Thursday, February 15th, 6-7pm on Zoom (More info) (Zoom meeting registration link).

Welcome to our new board members!

Speaking of board members, meet the newest recruits to the Madison Bikes crew!

Jacob Bortell, Katie Nash, Pratik Prajapati, Paul Lata, and Christina Lopez join the Madison Bikes Board of Directors. Please join us in welcoming them! We are delighted to have such a great group and we look forward to their contributions and effort to make Madison an even better place to ride a bike. To read more about the new (and existing) board members, check out our Board of Directors page.

That’s all for this newsletter. Enjoy the warmer riding weather and we hope to see you out there!

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Weekly Update

Snow time like the present (for a bike ride)

A lone, smiling bicyclist rides from right to left along a snow-covered bike path lined by leafless trees and light poles
It’s just pretty out there, some of the time. (photo by Harald Kliems)

Nothing cuts the chill of winter quite like camaraderie. And a hot drink. And a fireplace. And getting the blood pumping by turning some pedals outdoors. And … you know, there are lots of ways to warm up your winter, especially if you’re willing to experiencing it on your bicycle.

Bring your bar mitts full of winter cycling joy and agony to a pair of Madison Bikes events on Feb. 9 to celebrate International Winter Bike Day:

  • Hot coffee and doughnuts — donated by Cafe Domestique — just off the Capital City Trail from 7 to 9 a.m. in the Monona Terrace parking lot near the bike elevator
  • A warm fire and happy hour hangout for winter biking commiserating from 4 to 6 p.m. at Working Draft Beer Company, 1129 E. Wilson St.
A group of bicyclists dressed for winter gathered on the snowy bike path, with Monona Terrace in the background
Winter Bike Day 2023 (photo courtesy Harald Kliems)

Bike Fitchburg will celebrate the slippery season earlier in the week, with bagels and coffee and light bike mechanical service at a commuter station from 7 to 9 a.m. at Velo UnderRound, the junction of the Capital City Trail, Badger and Military Ridge state trails and Cannonball and Southwest Commuter paths.

This Week

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, the Transportation Commission will meet virtually at 5 p.m. Their full agenda includes a long list of high-profile projects looming in the city’s near future, including adoption of the the Lake Monona Waterfront Master Plan — with its underpass routing cyclists and pedestrians beneath John Nolen Drive — and a presentation on the pilot project that would turn about three blocks of State Street into a pedestrian mall.

Map of I-39/90/94, with several corrsings and potential crossings highlighted because the city wants to impress the importance of bike and ped infrastructure improvements at those sites upon DOT planners.
Many I-39/90/94 crossings

The Commission will also take up the state Department of Transportation’s planned study and reconstruction of Interstate 39/90/94 through the city’s east side, considering an endorsement of prioritizing safe connections for pedestrians and bicyclists across the rebuilt highway.

There are 17 crossings and potential new crossings of I-39/90/94 as it passes Madison, and the mayor and a group of city council members have proposed a list prioritizing the city’s concerns. Topping the charts are Milwaukee Street’s narrow and entirely sidewalk-less overpasses and a long-anticipated connection linking the Capital City and Glacial Drumlin state trails south of East Buckeye Road.

But wait, there’s more. The commission will peruse the annual report on Vision Zero Madison, the initiative to eliminate all fatal and serious injury crashes on city streets by 2035 (which just released its first quarterly newsletter of 2024), and the Northeast Area plan, which points out 10 sites for intersection improvements and planned infrastructure to address a “fragmented” bike network.

If you’re into paving, there are a pair of 2024 resurfacing projects ready for public information meetings:

Jan. 30, 5:30 p.m.: North Franklin and Stevens streets

Jan. 31, 6:30 p.m.: West Washington and Henry streets

Take this week with a conservative application of salt, and wheel into the next ready to celebrate cycling in the snow.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison pag

Categories
Weekly Update

Winter Storm Recovery, Social Events Aplenty

Low-hanging, snow-laden evergreen trees arch over the Southwest Path/Velo Underround
Low-hanging, snow-laden evergreen trees arch over the Southwest Path/Velo Underround (credit: Harald Kliems)

What a week for getting around outside it’s been! With weather and road conditions like this, you’d think it was International Winter Bike to Work Day but it’s not — that’s still coming up in February. This is good practice though, if you want it. However you choose to get around this week, please do it safely and with respect and care for people around you.

It’s easy to forget how much progress we’ve made with regards to winter cycling in Madison. Policies that were relatively recently put in place (within the last five years or so) ensure that the paths are cleared even on weekends, which is particularly noticeable given the timing of this latest snowfall. It would have been made even worse by the MLK holiday on Monday, potentially delaying path cleanup to Tuesday morning.

Small utility tractors work to clear a multi-use path
Small utility tractors work to clear a multi-use path (credit: Craig Weinhold)

This Week

On Wednesday, January 17 at 5 PM, the Transportation Commission will meet virtually. You can read the (relatively light) agenda here, which has a bit of bus-nerd stuff in it and some other tidbits.

On Thursday, January 18 at 7 PM, join an in-person discussion about the potential changes to Mineral Point Rd between Glenway and Midvale Blvd. The discussion will be hosted at the Midtown District Police Station, making it a border battle between districts 5 and 11. The proposed changes include safer pedestrian crossings, buffered bike lanes, reduced car travel lanes and removal of on-street parking (something already disallowed during rush hour in either direction). There was a virtual discussion about this last month and this is yet another opportunity to learn about the project.

On Friday, January 19 from 3-7 PM, drop by the first GearShift Gathering at the Bikes for Kids workshop on the south side. From the event description:

Stop by to meet your local bike organizations at this fun event! Local representatives will be available to talk with you about their work, talk about upcoming projects, and about their volunteer opportunities. Or just come and socialize with the bike community! We’ll also have door prizes🎁

On Saturday, January 20 from 9 AM to 1 PM, experience the legendary 2024 edition of the Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap. It’s always a fun time and a great way to connect with other cyclists in a warm setting during the coldest months of the year.

Abandoned Bikes PSA

There’s been a bit of discussion on our Facebook Community about what happens when the city collects abandoned bikes. First of all, you can report abandoned bikes to the city using this form and also to our aforementioned Facebook community and/or the Bike Index. According to Renee Callaway, City of Madison Pedestrian Bicycle Administrator:

Whenever [Madison Police Department] receives requests for bike donations they donate bikes and if they still have some after that that are in good/great shape they auction them off. The bikes that are heavily damaged or that are missing a lot of parts they do send off to city metals recycling.

Parting Gift

A short video biking along the Southwest Path after a snowfall (credit: Harald Kliems)

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Weekly Update

Welcome to winter biking

Now that we’ve had our first real snowfall — with more to come — I hope that everyone has figured out or remembered how to bike in the winter.

The city Bike Madison page (as opposed to this Madison Bikes page…. confusing…) had a nice set of suggestions about biking in winter. It’s really great to have supportive partners at the city, even if we sometimes want them to do more or go faster. We also had a nice call out from the City Traffic and Parking Facebook account that linked back to Harald’s end-of-year roundup. And they even suggested that people subscribe or follow us to keep up to date.

By the way, subscribing to the city Bike Madison page helps you stay up to date about construction, detours, and other official information. That’s why we try to put a link at the bottom  of our update each week. 

Unfortunately, we also saw two examples of “bike lash” in the paper this past week. First was an article in the Cap Times about the loss of urban trees, but also took aim at both the new wider sidewalk along Mineral Point Rd and the proposed multiuse path through the Sauk Creek Greenway. Then later in the week, a letter to the editor claimed that bicyclists don’t pay for the new infrastructure we are seeing. (This is untrue in multiple ways, but it’s a common misconception.)

This week

Things are still pretty quiet this week, with no big public meetings and not a lot of rides scheduled. Madison Bikes has been planning some exciting topics for our community meetings in the coming months, but those will be featured in future updates. There are a few items of interest coming up this week.

Wednesday

At 5:30 pm, Board of Public Works will be discussing two projects of interest to bicyclists, although there doesn’t seem to be much controversy around the projects, so no need to testify. (Unless you want to.) Agenda and Zoom link here.

The reconstruction of E Wilson St and E Doty St will add a two-way cycle track to E Wilson and new buffered bike lanes to E Doty St. This will complete the two-way bike facility on Wilson that Madison Bikes pushed for as one of its first projects. 

The final piece of the Lake Mendota Dr project will be also before the board, but the plans were already approved last year. This stretch from Spring Harbor Dr to Epworth Ct will add sidewalks, some bumpouts, space for a rain garden, and a traffic circle.

The monthly Queer Bike Ride meets the second Wednesday of the month at 6:00 pm. You can follow on Instagram for more details. All bodies are welcome.

Thursday

Freecycle will hold another Zoom meeting about what may be in their future. It looks like they’ll be doing this monthly after they started the conversation before the holidays. If you would like to join the conversation at 6:00 pm, you can get more information and sign up here.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

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E-Mail In Depth Newsletter

2023: The Madison Bikes year in review

2023 is almost over. It was a busy year for myself and for Madison Bikes. What did we do? What did we achieve? What went on in the city that is related to biking? The following is my personal, and certainly incomplete, account of that. Be warned: It’s long (and Mailchimp may cut some of it off!)

Madison Bike Week: Bigger than ever

Jerry Schippa, a traffic engineer with the city, nerding out about traffic signals

Writing about the 2023 edition of Madison Bike Week is a little overwhelming: It was the biggest Madison Bike Week ever and no single paragraph can do it any justice. There were bike stations, nerdy signal infrastructure rides, non-nerdy social rides, an amazing party in Brittingham Park, a cargo bikes and an e-bikes test event, bikepacking, and so on and so on. It’s always a big lift to keep all this organized, and then it’s amazing to see how it all comes together.

Cargo bike test event

Infrastructure highlights

Two-way off-street bike facility along Atwood Ave

A number of exciting infrastructure projects were completed or partially completed in 2023. Atwood Avenue was completely rebuilt, with fewer and narrower car lanes, new multiuse paths, continuous sidewalks, and a lot more. A little farther east, on the Lake Loop, the Dempsey and Davies project started and was partially finished: Instead of a bumpy road without any sidewalk, there is now a multi-use path on Davies St. The rest of the project will be completed in 2024. 

New multi-use path on Davies St

Downtown saw the completion of the West Wilson and Broom St project. The Wilson Street corridor had been an advocacy focus for us since at least 2018, and it was wonderful to see the project come to fruition, with a two-way cycletrack on West Wilson almost all the way to Monona Terrace. The full benefit for the low-stress bike network downtown will be realized when the East Wilson portion of the corridor, from Monona Terrace to Franklin, is rebuilt next year. 

Delivery of the Ubay overpass

On the west side, the University Bay Drive overpass was finished. On Hammersley Road we saw the completion of phase 1 of another multi-use path, from Brookwood Rd to Gilbert Rd. Phase 2 from Gilbert to the Beltline Frontage road, where the path will connect to the Southwest Path, is coming in 2024. And finally, another segment of the West Beltline Path, from Junction Road to Commerce Drive opened this year.

West Beltline multi-use path

Aside from these large projects, there were also a lot of smaller, less visible but no less important improvements – more rapid flashing beacons, green crossing markings, improved signal phasing, and so on. An infrastructure improvement of a different kind was the expansion of BCycle into Fitchburg. The all-electric bike share system grew by several stations and bikes, and this resulted in record ridership this year. Next year, more stations in Madison should be coming online.

Bringing federal funding to Madison

Site of a (very delayed) press conference to announce $15 million of federal funding to rebuild John Nolen Drive

If you’re following the local news, you’ll have noticed that the City of Madison was very successful in bringing in federal infrastructure dollars this year. This includes funding for the Autumn Ridge Path and overpass; for the John Nolen Causeway reconstruction; and most recently $6.2 million to implement the city’s Vision Zero action plan. These are all projects that couldn’t happen without federal dollars. Our role in all this? Probably small, but we provided support letters with the grant applications, emphasizing how the projects contribute to traffic safety, connectivity, and equity. 

Candidate questionnaires

Madison Bikes is a non-partisan, educational non-profit. We don’t endorse candidates in elections. Rather, we educate about the positions of candidates so that voters can make an educated decision on who to vote for. Therefore for the Common Council and mayoral election in the spring, we sent out candidate questionnaires again. Because transportation, land use, and housing are inextricably linked, we partnered with housing advocates Madison is for People and Madison Area Bus Advocates. All three mayoral candidates and 19 Common Council candidates responded to our questions

Madison Bikes social rides

Madison is for People X Madison Bikes social ride

It’s a little weird for a bike organization to not organize any bike rides, isn’t it? Well, when we started Madison Bikes we felt that a) there already were plenty of wonderful group rides ain Madison and b) organizing rides wasn’t our core skill set. But this year, after several years of COVID-related lack of in-person interaction, we decided to give it a try. In September and October we slow-rolled around Lake Monona with a group of 30-50 people. The conversations and connections made during and after the ride were wonderful, and we may pick these rides up again once the weather gets warmer.

Small grants

Women-trans-femme-nonbinary bike social during Madison Bike Week (photo: Sarah Perdue)

We’re a small organization and there are a lot of people and organizations out there with great ideas but a lack of funds to turn those ideas into reality. That’s especially true for folks and communities that traditionally have been excluded from or underrepresented in biking spaces. As a small step to fix this, we set up our small grants program a few years ago: A simple application, quick turnaround, locally focused. We’ve had the program in place since 2021, but in 2023 it started taking off. We supported several events during Madison Bike Week: A bike station by the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County; a shop tour and volunteer event at Bikes for Kids Dane County (formerly known as Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison); a women-trans-femme-nonbinary ride and social during Madison Bike Week, organized as a collaborative effort between Madison Women’s Cycling Club, Radical Adventure Riders, and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Improving bike infrastructure data at an OpenStreetMap mapathon (Photo: Stephen Kennedy)

Outside of Madison Bike Week we provided support for a “mapathon”: Local cartographer Stephen Kennedy of LATLONG.SHOP hosted a Madison Bike Mapathon in November focused on adding bike-related data to OpenStreetMap. Nearly 20 community members—most of whom had never contributed to OSM—showed up to learn the editing process. The group added data related to road speed changes, road crossing elements like islands and RRFBs, Bcycle stations, and bike parking infrastructure.

And our biggest small grant that is still ongoing is a video production project by La Comunidad News ONLINE and Madison Vibra: “A Pedaleando Juntos: Inclusive Biking for All in Madison.” The results should be coming in early next year.

In 2024, we will continue and expand the grant program. If you have an idea or know anyone who does, please go to the small grants page on our website.

New people supporting weekly update

In an organization without paid staff, a lot of the work gets done by our amazing board of directors. But of course we can’t do it all, and we have wonderful help from volunteers. Our weekly newsletter is something I’m very proud of, and writing them is a lot of work (I’d estimate that on average it takes me at least an hour to write one newsletter). This year we reached out to our community to recruit new writers. Chris and Daniel responded to that call and are now part of our rotation of newsletter writers. A big thanks to them, and the other members of the team: Ben (another super volunteer), Christo, Kyle (emeritus), Robbie, and Connor. 

The Streets Project

Panelists at The Street Project: Collin Mead (Wisconsin Bike Fed), Baltazar de Anda Santana (Latino Academy for Workforce Development), Morgan Ramaker (Downtown Madison Inc), Alicia Bosscher (safe streets activist and organizer of Ride for your Life Madison). Not shown: Chris McCahill (Congress for the New Urbanism)

In October we hosted a film screening and a panel discussion. The Street Project tells stories about “humanity’s relationship to the streets and the global citizen-led fight to make communities safer. Digging deep into the root causes of traffic violence, the filmmakers engage a diverse array of experts. These expert interviews are interwoven with the stories of real people working to make their communities safer.” To make the connection to what’s happening in our city more explicit, we invited a panel of local experts and activists to discuss the movie and respond to audience questions. The event drew about 120 people and the panel discussion was lively. Stay tuned for some exciting film screening news in 2024! 

Winter events

Winter Bike Anywhere Day

We actually had two successful Car-free Holiday Fantasy in Lights events this year. One at the very beginning of the year, and another one in November. Hundreds of attendees got the opportunity to experience the lights on foot or bike, without having to worry about cars. Our other traditional winter event is celebrating International Winter Bike Anywhere Day in early February. We teamed up with the City and served warm beverages and snacks in front of Monona Terrace on a very crisp-but-beautiful weekday morning. 

Ride for your Life

Video from Ride For Your Life Madison (https://youtu.be/flAgCa3jhqg)

October saw what was likely the largest bike and walk safety rally that Madison had ever seen: The Ride for your Life, instigated and organized by Alicia Bosscher, who lost her sister to traffic violence, and a team of the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Trek, Madison Bikes and numerous volunteers. Hundreds of people rode their bikes through the city to demand more safety for vulnerable road users. This was a powerful demonstration for how much support for safer biking and walking there is. Which leads me to the next topic.

Vision Zero

Madison’s Vision Zero policy and action plan have been in place for a few years now. As a reminder, Vision Zero posits that the only acceptable number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries is zero, and Madison’s action plan has a goal to reach 0 by 2035. The good news: After the devastating loss of the lives of three cyclists last year, nobody in Madison was killed while biking in 2023. Four people on bikes were seriously injured, which is the same number as in 2023. The larger picture, however, looks less rosy: After we had seemingly made progress last year, the overall number of fatalities and serious injuries is up again, and the number of fatalities is the highest since at least 2017. 

Biking stats: Not great

Aside from safety, one of my goals for bike advocacy is getting more people to bike more. And so every year I look at several indicators on how that’s going in Madison. What’s the proportion of people biking to work? What do the bike counter numbers tell us? How is BCycle ridership doing? And how does Madison compare to other cities? The very short version for 2022 (2023 numbers won’t be available for another while): It’s not great, but other cities are doing even worse. You can dive into the details in this blog post

Board comings and goings

Our board of directors is the core of our organization and we are very much a “working board.” Everything we do relies on the volunteer labor of our board members. A few board members had to step down because they moved away or had too many other responsibilities. Thanks to Caitlin, Connor, Kyle, and Sam for all your work! We miss you. We also have an exciting roster of incoming board members who will start their terms in January. Stay tuned for a blog post to introduce them. And finally, a big shout-out to the board members and officers who have been and will continue to be part of our organization: Aaron, Beth, Christo, Craig, Eleanor, Liz, Mark, Pete, and Robbie!

Looking forward to 2024

I’ll end here and want to thank you, dear reader, for your support. Maybe you volunteered for Madison Bikes, attended a public meeting, forwarded our newsletter, emailed your alder, supported us financially, told your neighbor how awesome biking is, shared your knowledge in our Facebook group, or just kept biking. I look forward to 2024. Tailwinds!

Categories
Newsletter Weekly Update

When Bike Advocacy Work Pays Off

Welcome to the Madison Bikes newsletter! It’s the time of year when we get the least amount of sunlight, so if you can, be sure to take some time for yourself during the day. A short walk or bike ride in the middle of the workday can be an effective energy booster. As I like to say, you’re only one bike ride away from a good mood! Anyway, here’s what you need to know about biking in Madison this week.

Community Meeting Recap

Last week, some Madison Bikes Community members met to brainstorm and plan community meetings for 2024. Our goal is to have a meeting each month in the form of a get together, ride, learning opportunity, etc. and last Thursday we asked you for input and help. We got a lot of great ideas for meetings with themes like Spring bike cleaning and maintenance, restaurant hopping bike rides, dogs on bikes, and more!

Community meetings typically occur on the last Monday of the month, but you can see the complete schedule on our calendar. Sometimes we may combine the community meeting with other events, like during Bike Week in June. Keep an eye on this newsletter for details on all upcoming events. We look forward to seeing you there.

New Wilson and Broom St. Cycletracks

Some hot new bicycle infrastructure just dropped along Wilson and Broom streets! Two cycletracks were built as part of the city’s reconstruction and replacement of utilities along those corridors. This is a big win and important step towards connecting the Cap City Trail near Machinery Row to the Capitol area. We want to extend a huge thank you and congratulations for those of you who advocated for this improvement back in 2019.

Check out this video from Jerry Schippa for a tour of the new facilities!

Broom and Wilson Street Cycletrack 2023 | Jerry Schippa on YouTube

That’s not all. Last week, the Transportation Commission presented preliminary plans for even more improvements in this area. The plans included extending the cycletrack Eastward to King St, along with other changes. The construction is expected to begin in May 2024 and take 6 months. You can find more plan details in the full presentation.

This is proof that showing up to meetings or even sending emails can make a big difference in the way our city’s transportation is designed. Once again, thank you to those who pushed for this and hooray for reclaiming more space for people.

Alder Slack Resigns

On Friday, Alder Kristen Slack announced her resignation from the Madison Common Council due to family health issues. The resignation will take effect January 10th and the Council is looking for applicants to backfill that role. If you’re wondering if you are eligible, the city has a page to check which district you live in. If you are a bicycling ally, live in District 19, and want to become an Alder, now is the time to apply! Applications are due by January 9th. You can find more details on how to apply in the link at the beginning of this paragraph. The newly appointed Alder will serve the remainder of the current term which goes until April, 2025.

Mineral Point “Road Diet” Meeting

Last week, we talked about how Mineral Point Rd is due for resurfacing in 2024 and the city is considering a “road diet,” meaning they want to reduce travel lanes, eliminate parking, and add bike lanes. The project spans from Midvale to the Speedway/Glenway intersection. If you want to learn more, we encourage you to read this post from the city website. The page contains a link to attend the virtual meeting at 5pm on Tuesday, December 19th. If you can’t attend but want to show support, you can email Alder Tishler at district11@cityofmadison.com.

That’s all for this newsletter. Have a wonderful week ahead!

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.

Categories
Newsletter Weekly Update

Yes, Virginia, there are road diets.

This week, consider giving the gift of your input on city transportation projects and planning. But first, the rampaging:

Wisconsin Bike Fed’s Santa Cycle Rampage rolled through the Isthmus on Saturday, bringing cheer to all the good children and cargo-bike-adapted dogs. The event put a bow on many a newscast, because the only thing more fun than riding in an itchy, fur-trimmed hat is watching scores of Santas pedal by.

Mineral Point widened sidewalk: It’s happening!

The Common Council last week made a final decision on the fate of the widened sidewalk along the north side of Mineral Point Road (for details, see last week’s action alert). After much public comment and debate, the Council did the right thing: Alder Figueroa Cole made a motion to adopt the Transportation Commission’s proposal (i.e. 8-10 ft of sidewalk along the whole stretch, except along Nautilus Point Park, where a separate path will be built). This resolution passed 13-4-1 (yes/no/abstain). Thanks to everyone who emailed the council or spoke at the meeting. Consider sending your alder a note of appreciation if they voted in favor.

YES

D1 Duncan
D2 Bennett
D3 Field
D4 Verveeer
D5 Vidaver
D6 Rummel
D8 Govindarajan
D10 Figueroa Cole
D14 Knox Jr
D15 Martinez-Rutherford
D16 Currie
D18 Myadze
D20 Harrington-McKinney

NO

D7 Wehelie
D9 Conklin
D11 Tishler
D19 Slack

ABSTAIN

D12 Latimer Burris

EXCUSED

D13 Evers
D17 Madison

West Area Plan

The 10-year guide to land use, transportation, parks and open space for the chunk of the Madison bounded by Midvale Boulevard and the Beltline comes before three city commissions this week. The plan includes the Sauk Creek Corridor’s contentious bike path, a road diet with lane reductions for portions of Gammon and Old Sauk roads — with space to be repurposed for a side path and added buffering for bike lanes — and new connections between dead-end streets and establishing rights of way for potential future public roads. Nick Davies posted a brief summary on the Madison Bikes Facebook group.

The three commissions (with links to agendas and virtual meetings) on the calendar are:

Plan Commission, 5:30 p.m. today, Dec. 11

Transportation Commission, 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 13

Board of Park Commissioners, 6:30 p.m., also Wednesday, Dec. 13

The Transportation Commission will also consider plans for the reconstruction of East Wilson Street, scheduled for 2024, which could include a two-way, sidewalk-level bicycle path on the south side of the street. Details (in a pdf) here.

More holiday diet discussion

Mineral Point Road is scheduled for resurfacing in 2024 from its eastern origin at Speedway Road and Glenway Street to its intersection with Midvale Boulevard, work that may include a road diet that would remove street parking and add bike lanes.

Madison Bikes wants your input on events

The Madison Bikes board meets today from 6 to 8 p.m., in the virtual way (Zoom link here).

More importantly, you are invited to join an in-person community meeting for 2024 event planning, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Room 104 of the Madison Public Library’s Central Branch, 201 W. Mifflin St. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm and begin planning events for next year’s calendar:

We want to hear from you! Do you have a specific bike-related skill you can share with the Madison Bikes community? Are you interested in volunteering to teach a class or lead a ride? Sign up to share your expertise (or the thing you wish you knew) on a topic related to biking that will benefit our community! Also, there will be pizza.

Yes, there will be pizza. Diets are for roads.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at info@madisonbikes.org to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.